designMENA speaks to Michael Waters, head lecturer in Real Estate, Heriot-Watt University’s Dubai campus.
The MSc programme in Real Estate Management and Development offers the essential learning components from the industry including property economics, valuation methodology, construction, investment analysis, international property law and property asset management, according to Waters.
Importance of the course
“The UAE has a significant opportunity to become a global leader in the property and construction profession; however, education is fundamental to this process. In an environment, which has seen such remarkable asset growth, training and adaptation of international practice standards, it will undeniably play a significant role in the second phase of market development,” he added.
The course covers the processes taking place within property transactions, development projects and investment funding. In addition, it encourages students to develop skills in recognising and adopting the relevant new trends in global property markets, such as sustainability and green values, as well as best practice and professionals integrity.
Waters said the course is important in the region and current economic climate, and added that improving valuation standards, managing real estate assets and increasing transparency of operations are all important to promote on-going professional practice. Such moves will see local and international confidence reinstated, retained and growing over the next 5-10 years.
Professional education for surveyors is also of importance, for the continuation and growth of the local real estate profession, according to Waters.
“The harmonisation of professional procedures worldwide, the opportunity to learn about other systems of global real estate practice and to benefit from that knowledge is surely a valuable experience,” he said.
At present, career prospects for qualified property practitioners are positive in the UAE’s market, with recent research by property recruitment firm MacDonald & Co. showing the average monthly salaries exceed AED38,000 per month.
Waters added: “Our graduates have a clear route to professional membership with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) accreditation– a mark of property professionalism worldwide.”
How the course works
The programme is taught by highly experienced academic staff, with the help of industry practitioners, meaning that students benefit from a wealth of knowledge and practical skills development, said Waters.
The course also includes a dissertation project, where students are expected to apply course theory and learning outcomes to key issues facing the local market.
Water said examples of interesting research has included students studying how to introduce a range of indirect investment vehicles in the MENA region, as well as examining trends in Dubai’s hotel development sector, evaluating the use of international codes of measurement practice to residential transactions, and researching a valuation framework for sustainable buildings in the UAE.
“The practical application of our course by graduates has been hugely successful, with top students taking key discussions from the classroom to the market place, as well as the development of some extremely innovative solutions being placed in the field,” said Waters.
Past students have come from regional and international real estate firms and authorities, including CBRE, Colliers, Sorouh, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA).
What do students need to apply?
“Property industry experience is not a prerequisite for entry onto this course. We are keen to recognise the diverse range of academic and employment backgrounds of our prospective students,” said Waters.
Those with a good undergraduate degree (equivalent to a BSc) to those who have a further qualification alongside a number of years of relevant work experience in the real estate sector can apply.
Applicants with no formal education can also sign up if they have eight or more years of relevant experience.
“We are optimistic that this professional study programme will be of real benefit to operations in the local real estate market,” he added.